I just wanted to share a little something for those of you with narcissistic mothers who struggle on & around Mother’s Day…
Tag Archives: parent
Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder in which a person obsesses over flaws in their appearance. The flaws may be real or not. A person with body dysmorphia also often avoids other people because of feeling such embarrassment & even shame over their flaws. They also may seek surgery or other ways of fixing these supposed flaws in their appearance. The solutions may only provide temporary relief, but often the anxiety over the flaws returns.
Body dysmorphia can result from abnormalities or injuries to the brain. A family history of the disorder also can lead to a person being prone to developing it. I believe it also can be the result of narcissistic abuse.
Negative comments about something can be hurtful. If they are negative enough, they can make a person feel very self conscience. Narcissists don’t simply say a few random negative comments periodically, however. They frequently say the most scathing, cruel, vicious criticisms they can come up with in order to annihilate their victim’s self esteem, because a person with no self esteem is easy to control. One area narcissists often focus on is someone’s appearance.
Naturally when a parent says such things to their child, the likelihood of that child accepting the criticisms as truth is greater than if those same words were spoken to an adult by a stranger. Parents have a tremendous influence over their children, & children naturally accept what their parents say as true, even when it isn’t. Children’s brains are still forming too, which also makes it easier for them to accept their parents’ words as truth rather than question them.
When a child of a narcissistic parent grows up, it’s very likely that they will marry a narcissist. It’s also likely that the narcissist they marry will repeat certain patterns that their parents employed. Insulting the adult child of narcissistic parents in the area of their appearance is a common phenomenon.
When I was growing up, my mother was extremely critical of how I looked. While she never said the word “fat”, she implied I was extremely fat more times than I can count. Looking back at pictures of me as a child now though I realize I wasn’t fat at all, I was a normal weight.
Later when I married my ex husband, he continued her abuse in this area. He also never told me I was fat, but constantly implied that I needed to lose weight. I eventually lost weight & was too thin, yet I still wasn’t thin enough for his liking.
My situation is far from abnormal among adult children of narcissistic parents.
If you have experienced this as well, know that you are far from alone! Many people who have suffered with Body Dysmorphia after experiencing narcissistic abuse.
I never went to therapy about this because I didn’t realize it was something treatable through therapy, plus after bad experiences in therapy, I lacked trust in the mental health system. This caused me to look for my own ways to conquer Body Dysmorphia. While therapy is most likely the most effective way, I thought I would share my ideas anyway in case anyone reading this prefers to handle the situation on their own as I did.
During the time I was going through the worst of the Body Dysmorphia, I didn’t believe in God. Prayer wasn’t going to happen. I wish I had because no doubt God would have helped me so much more than anything I did without Him! Please learn from my mistake & pray.
Also, listen to what other people tell you. I spent my entire life dismissing complements rather than accepting them with a simple “thank you.” People don’t give complements easily. Listen to what they say because they mean them!
Look at yourself objectively. Ask yourself if what the narcissist said makes any sense. Most likely, it won’t.
When you hear the narcissist telling you about all of your flaws, question those things.
Doing these things won’t make Body Dysmorphia disappear overnight. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll ever vanish entirely since even years later, I still am quite insecure about my looks. But, at the very least they will help you to feel much less insecure, & that isn’t a bad worst case scenario!
When someone goes no contact with their parent, it usually comes about after a lot of thought, sometimes even over a period of years. It also comes after preparation for full no contact. What I mean is often the adult child has tried setting boundaries & limiting contact with their parent. Often, they start small & work up to more boundaries & less contact before full no contact is initiated. I did this myself. I contemplated no contact for a long time before deciding it was what I needed to do. I knew I wasn’t ready & also that timing wasn’t right, however. I leaned on God for guidance & also for strength. He showed me small boundaries I could set. That strengthened me to set larger boundaries & limit my contact with my parents. In time, I knew the time was right for no contact, & I also had the ability to do it.
This isn’t the case when narcissistic parents cut ties with their children.
Narcissistic parents don’t go no contact as a way to protect themselves from abusive people. They inatead use the silent treatment as a way to punish & manipulate, although they may claim they are setting a healthy boundary with an abusive person.
This behavior can be incredibly hurtful to the adult child of a narcissist! It also leaves them questioning what they did wrong & what they could’ve done better. Sometimes they even question what they did because they have no idea. My mother stopped speaking to me for 18 months once, & I never learned why.
If you’re in this situation & struggling with these feelings, you’re normal! It can feel otherwise, but I promise, you’re normal!
Please keep in mind your parent is manipulating you. That’s just what narcissistic parents do. It doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. In fact, you probably did something right. If you set a healthy boundary, no doubt your parent is angry & punishing you for it. Maybe you had some personal success. That could have stirred up envy in your parent & he or she wants to hurt you for looking better than them. Whatever the case, your parent is clearly the one with the problem, not you. If you remember that, it will help you not to be as upset about your parent’s behavior. In fact, it may help you to enjoy the repreive from the abusive, awful behavior.
This post is for those of you who have made the bold, painful step of going no contact with your narcissistic parents.
All of us who have gone no contact with our narcissistic parents know that in such situations, the relationship had become utterly intolerable & that pushed us to the desperation of no contact. The constant control, vindictive criticisms & abuse became too much from the overtly narcissistic parent. The constant shaming, manipulation, childish behavior & abuses so subtle most people didn’t see them from the covertly narcissistic parent also were too much. Who can live with this indefinitely?! No one with any normal human emotions could!
Upon ending the relationship, the shock of the flying monkeys & their despicable abuse was next. The constant comments of, “But that’s your mother or father!” “You only get one set of parents!” “They’re getting up in years. How do you think you’ll feel when they die?” & other venom comes from their mouths. When guilt & shame don’t work, they attack your character. They call you ungrateful, spoiled, a brat, evil & more. If you’re a Christian, your faith will be attacked, too. As they like to claim, by severing ties with your abusive parents, you obviously have no idea what it means to honor your parents. You must be a hypocrite!
Trauma doesn’t end with no contact. Thanks to flying monkeys, it often continues for quite some time until they find a new target.
The time immediately after no contact is a very difficult time. The guilt, the doubts & the abuse from flying monkeys are all incredibly hard to deal with! Also many times, C-PTSD goes into overdrive after no contact. No longer needing to function in survival mode seems to make the brain think that since you’re safe now, it’s time to deal with all those old issues you put on the back burner for so long. All of these things can make you wonder if you did the right thing by going no contact. Sometimes it seems easier to remain in the relationship just to keep the peace, but it truly isn’t easier.
Once you are no contact, you’re finally free. Free from the barrage of abuse from your narcissistic parent. Free from your parent trying to make you into whatever they want you to be. Free to do what you want without your parent trying to tell you how wrong you are & shaming you for your so called bad decisions. Free to be the wonderful person God made you to be. You’re finally free!!
From day one, narcissistic parents try to make their children into whatever sick fantasy they have. They don’t care one iota about the child’s talents, interests or anything like that. They are narcissists, after all, so all that matters to them is what they want. Growing up like this, finally experiencing freedom can be scary. The assaults of the flying monkeys & often the harassment from the narcissistic parents can add to the fear. You know something though? Going through the fear is totally worth it. On the other side of that fear are peace, joy & bravery like you have never known!
And, you don’t have to walk through that fear alone. God will be right by your side! Remember, Psalm 23 says that He walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. I have experienced that first hand, & I can tell you that as painful as those times were, especially after going no contact with my parents, it was all worth it. I ended up closer to God than ever, & He enabled me to do the unimaginable. He will do the same for you if you allow Him to. Dear Reader, as hard as no contact with narcissistic parents can be, don’t give up. Don’t go back. Don’t listen to the absurd ramblings of those who don’t know your situation like you do. Lean on God. Let Him support & guide you through this process. xoxo
It seems that many people have some very black & white opinions when it comes to those of us raised by abusive parents. No doubt you have experienced some of that thinking first hand. Hasn’t at least one person told you that parents always love their children, you’re not honoring your parent by setting boundaries, your parent didn’t abuse you because they never hit you or other similar comments?
There is another example of black & white thinking & it comes with going no contact with your abusive parent. Many people assume that eliminating your parent from your life means you hate that parent. Not long after my mother died, I ran into an acquaintance. He said, “I’d say I’m sorry to hear about your mom, but I know you’re glad she’s gone.” I thought later that no doubt many people think exactly the same thing.
What people who think this don’t realize is the children of abusive parents don’t always hate their parents. Some do, yes, but not all. In fact, I would guess that most love their parents. It’s their behavior they hate.
These folks also fail to realize that because we don’t hate our abusive parents, we end up with a lot of confusing & mixed feelings about our parents. Those feelings are seldom validated, even by some who have survived similar situations to ours. Some I’ve spoken with actually got angry at me for not hating my parents like they did. Some also said I needed to accept that they’re just evil & forget about them. People can be very cruel sometimes!
For those who are in the position of having gone no contact with their abusive parent(s), I just want you to know that whatever you feel, your feelings are valid!
If you hate your parent(s), that is valid. It’s understandable to feel that way after someone inflicts horrific abuse on you!
If you love your parent(s), that too is valid. We all only get two parents & that gives them a very unique position in our lives. It’s understandable to love them even if they have hurt you terribly.
If deciding to go no contact was an easy decision for you, that is valid as well. You knew what you needed to do & followed through with it. That is great you were able to do that!
If deciding to go no contact was a tough decision for you, that is valid too. It’s a big decision, & not always an easy one to make. Some people naturally struggle with that decision more than others.
I also want you to know that protecting yourself is ok! It’s a good thing to do, even if you are forced to protect yourself from your parents. Not all parents are capable of loving their children or being good parents. It isn’t your job or duty to tolerate their abuse just because they’re your parents.
Protecting yourself from them also doesn’t make you a bad person, heartless, spoiled or a fake Christian. It doesn’t mean you’re dishonoring your abusive parents, either. It means you are putting your mental & emotional health above your parents’ sick need to abuse you, & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Having chosen no contact with my parents, my heart truly goes out to others in that situation, because I remember the struggles, the guilt, the doubt, the intense anxiety & the useless & even cruel input of others at that time. Many people have been in this situation other than you & I. You’re not alone! If you need support, there are plenty of online options. There are counselors & pastors that can help as well. Mostly, there is a loving God who wants to help you. Let Him. You won’t be sorry!
My publish is having their “Read An Ebook Week” sale from March 7 until March 13. This means that all of my ebooks will be 25% off!
Ebooks are the most affordable way to buy my books. Why not take advantage of the extra 25% off?
Come check them out!
Low contact is exactly as it sounds, when a person has low contact with another. It isn’t discussed a lot in the circles that discuss narcissistic abuse, which is really a shame.
If you are in the position of not being able to go full no contact, such as in the situation of having joint custody of children together, low contact is an excellent alternative. Or, if you want to go no contact but don’t feel strong enough to take that step just yet, low contact can help you get to that point. Low contact is different than no contact in that it doesn’t need to be done all at once. It can be done little by little, & each little step you take increases your confidence in your ability to set boundaries with the narcissist. Or, if the narcissist in your life is low on the spectrum, you may find that low contact makes the relationship much more tolerable & decide not to go full no contact. In any case, low contact really can be a very helpful tool!
Whatever your situation with the narcissist, if you are considering low contact, I’m sure it’s for a very valid reason. At their absolute best, narcissists are VERY difficult to deal with & at their worst, impossible to deal with, even dangerous to one’s physical & mental health. Be proud of yourself for taking care of yourself!
If you think low contact is a good option for you, you are probably wondering where to start. I’ll tell you how I did low contact with my parents, & you can decide if this would work for you or not. I started by not answering the phone every time my parents narcissist called. That boundary was clearly a shock to them, but although they were angry, they realized they couldn’t rage without appearing foolish. Rather than rage, they made some snide comments like, “You didn’t answer the phone yesterday.. I thought you were mad at me.” Naturally those comments hurt at first but I realized that was the intent behind them. My parents were simply upset that I was setting a perfectly reasonable boundary.
I also started setting limits on how long we were on the phone together for the first time. My parents always determined how long our calls lasted, so this was a little trickier. Saying, “I have to go” didn’t work so I needed to get creative. I also don’t like to lie, so that also made this really tricky. I sometimes rang my doorbell so my dogs would bark & say, “Doorbell rang. Dixie’s barking, you hear that? I need to go.” Other times I used another phone to trigger the call waiting on the phone I was using so they’d hear the beep & they’d let me go so I could respond to the beep.
My parents lived not far from me, & my father in particular wanted to visit often. He often invited himself to visit my home. Thankfully he would call a few days prior at least rather than just showing up. When he called saying he wanted to visit soon, I would say things like, “Tuesday isn’t good.. how about Thursday instead?” It didn’t take long for him to want to come by less often. Clearly, he didn’t like me taking some control back.
The more boundaries I set, the more confident I became in my ability to set boundaries & eventually go no contact. This is normal! Each small step you take creates not only more space between you & the narcissist, but also builds your confidence. You see you can do one thing, then gain the confidence to do something a little bolder, then a little bolder yet & so forth. Before you know it, you’re ready to implement no contact, if that is your goal.
And something else happened – the more boundaries I set & the more comfortable I was setting them, the less my parents wanted to do with me! They began avoiding me. Their phone calls & visits became much less frequent. Also, their calls & visits became much shorter in duration, too. This also is normal! Narcissists naturally have an aversion to boundaries & to healthy people. Low contact truly is a wonderful thing! It helps victims reclaim some of their power & confidence while repelling narcissists. I want to encourage you to give it a try! I believe you will be very pleased by the results!
It’s a simple fact of life that some family members abuse other family members. Every single person I have spoken with who reads my work has been abused by at least one relative. I have been too. And one thing the majority of us have in common is that we have severed ties with these monsters to protect ourselves.
So many people have experienced the same thing I have, people coming out of the woodwork to tell us we have done something terrible by severing ties. They seem to think since you’re related, that relationship is somehow sacred, & there is never any reason to end it. Many people even bring God into their warped views, saying you have to “forgive & forget” or “honor your parent” by tolerating whatever they do to you.
I want you to know today that is completely wrong!
Titus 3:10 says, “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,” (ESV) And, 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says,“3 But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, 3 [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.” (AMP) (Emphasis added)
Did you notice something in there about how this applies to anyone but family? Me neither. Probably because it’s not there!
So many of you reading this post today have ended relationships with your abusive family members, & are struggling with guilt & doubt. I totally understand. I’ve been in this same position. After I stopped speaking to my parents, I had a LOT of both guilt & doubt. Shortly after, I learned my father had leukemia, which added even more guilt & doubt. I also had relatives constantly telling me how awful I was & doing their best to shame & even bully me into resuming the relationship with my parents. The only reason I survived all of that with my sanity in tact is God.
When times got tough & people were being so cruel to me about being no contact, I depended on God to help me get through. Help me He did too! God would remind me that I did what was right, at the time it was right, & I did nothing wrong. They didn’t see that because of their own issues, not because I had done something bad. He even stopped me from making things worse by enabling me not to respond to their vicious attacks. He kept reminding me that if I responded, things would get worse, so ignore them. Save their emails, messages, etc. in case I need them one day, but don’t read them or respond to them.
Everything God did for me during the flying monkey attacks was exactly what I needed in my situation. He will do the same for you!
If you have come to the point of having no contact with some of your family, please rest assured God understands! Contrary to what some people think, He is ok with you removing toxic, abusive people from your life, even if they are family. When you’re struggling with your decision, talk to Him & ask His help. He won’t let you down! Let Him help! He can get you through anything, even this!
Many people have very definite opinions on no contact but especially when it comes to parents. There are so many who claim no contact is the only option & there is no excuse not to sever ties with toxic parents. There are probably just as many who claim it’s not God’s will, no contact is dishonorable & there is absolutely no excuse to sever ties with your parents no matter what they have done to you.
If you are in the position of wondering if no contact is your best solution, no doubt you have read information on both sides of this argument. It can be truly overwhelming & confusing!
My purpose in this post is to help you decide whether or not no contact is necessary in your particular situation. Following are some questions you need to consider. When you answer them, the more honestly you answer, the more clarity you should have about whether or not you need to go no contact with your parent.
Is your parent willing to discuss your relationship? Narcissistic parents have no desire to discuss the relationship or work towards solutions. They don’t want to hear their victim’s complaints, & can shut down as soon as the conversation turns to their behavior. Functional people are open to discussion & are willing to listen, not only talk.
Does your parent deny any responsibility for problems in the relationship? Functional people admit when they are wrong. They apologize & try to make appropriate changes. Dysfunctional people, narcissists in particular, refuse to admit they have made mistakes. Instead, they refuse to admit any wrong doing, shift all blame to the victim or make lame excuses for their behavior.
When discussing the relationship, does your parent turn the situation around to where you are the abuser, them the victim? Covert narcissists in particular love to do this. No matter how valid your complaint about their behavior, they can spin the situation around to make you look abusive, while simultaneously making them look like the innocent victim of your abusive ways. Functional people do nothing like this.
Is your parent completely inflexible? For any relationship to work, both parties have to be rather flexible. One person can’t do all of the compromising & expect the relationship to be a healthy one. Yet, narcissists aren’t concerned with what is healthy. They’re only concerned with what they want, & what they want is a one sided relationship where their victim caters to their every whim. Functional people are willing to bend & compromise if it means the relationship will be better.
Is your parent very entitled? Functional parents accept that their children are grown with their own life, family & responsibilities. They don’t expect to be their adult child’s top priority. Entitled parents are much different. They think their adult children need to have them as top priority even over their spouse &/or children & are impossible. No matter how much their adult child does for them, it never will be enough nor will it please this parent. Even if their adult child does so much for them that their spouse divorces them, it still won’t be enough. It may please the parent, however, to have that spouse out of the picture so the adult child can focus on them even more.
Have you tried your best to fix this relationship yet it either didn’t change or got worse? One person can’t fix a relationship, but by altering their behavior, some change should come naturally to the relationship. If the relationship stayed the same or got worse, that is not a good sign. Narcissists don’t like their victims to change unless that change means the victim is more subservient. If your parent is like the dysfunctional ones I discussed, chances are excellent that no contact is your best solution. I don’t like to say anyone definitely should go no contact, because each person & each situation is unique. However, the dysfunctional behaviors I’ve discussed are big signs that there is no working things out with anyone who behaves that way. From here, I highly recommend lots of prayer & consideration of your unique situation. And, if you realize no contact is necessary for you, then you can have peace of mind knowing you did all you could & gave it a lot of serious consideration before implementing no contact.
I’ve been toying with the idea of creating some mini books for a while now. Each book being much shorter than the average, & focusing only on one topic at a time. I thought it could be a good idea since narcissism is a pretty overwhelming topic. These books help readers by not inundating them with too much information per book which makes them easier to read & absorb the subject matter. Plus, being shorter books, people can get exactly the information they want at a cheaper price than buying a larger book.
Mini books also are much easier for me to write. It’s almost six years to the day after I survived carbon monoxide poisoning & my brain is still not in a really happy place. I can write obviously, but it’s a much greater struggle now than it once was. I think it’s time to make my life easier in general, including with writing.
I just published the first three, & they’re available at this link on my website: https://cynthiabaileyrug.com/home/books-for-sale/mini-books/
Currently, all are available in only ebook format, but I am considering making them available in print as well. It’s so hard to know what to do like this anymore! People have very definite feelings of print vs ebook format, & those who prefer one over the other change like the wind!
Anyway I hope you like the new ebooks. More will be coming in the future. As I mentioned recently, I’ll be getting rid of my free ebooks by the end of this month. I plan to add more information to them & charge a little for them. Not much, since they’ll still be rather short little ebooks.
Thank you to everyone for being supportive & wonderful! May God bless you! 💖💖
January 12, 2018, I had an odd experience. It was my father’s birthday, the first birthday after his death. I was thinking about that when I felt strongly that he wanted God to send me a message.. “Encourage the weak, like me.” I immediately knew in my heart what that meant.
At that point, it was just over 2 months since my father died, & in that short time, God showed me a great deal about him, including why he didn’t protect me from my mother. One of those things was that he felt trapped in their marriage, unable to escape. I believe that was what he meant by “the weak”, other people who also feel trapped in their situation.
Every January around his birthday, I try to encourage those who are still in relationships with narcissists as a result of that message.
If you’re still in a relationship with the narcissist in your life, I don’t think you’re weak at all. I think my father used that word because he felt weak for not protecting me & wanted me to know others in similar situations also felt weak. I get that, but I still don’t think you’re weak. If you were, I doubt highly that you would have any interest in reading this post or anything else about narcissism.
Maybe you’re forced to stay because of financial reasons. Narcissists abuse in every way, including financially. Many narcissistic parents & partners steal money from their victim, ruin their credit, get them fired from their jobs or even forbid them to work.
Many victims feel a sense of obligation to the narcissist. My ex husband made me feel as if I owed it to him to be with him, even when I was miserable with him. He hardly the only one who has done that to a victim.
Many stay because they mistakenly feel as Christians, it’s dishonoring their parents to go no contact or it’s a sin to divorce an abusive partner. Sadly, many victims are encouraged to think this way either by narcissists & their flying monkeys or by those who don’t understand the Bible very well.
Another possibility is that you can leave, but feel so beaten down, you don’t think you can leave. You don’t trust in yourself to make it on your own without the narcissist telling you what to do, how to think, how to feel, what to wear, & on & on. You don’t think you have any marketable skills to earn a living that could support you & maybe also children.
Staying in a relationship with a narcissist takes a great deal of inner strength. Fighting to keep your sanity in a completely insane situation day after day isn’t easy! It takes a TON of courage & strength.
In spite of what many people say, no contact isn’t an easy solution that fixes all of your problems. If that is your goal, know being prepared for it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to build up the courage to do it, & courage to face the aftermath. The narcissist most likely will create a smear campaign against you & send the flying monkeys. Mentally preparing for all of that takes time, learning all you can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder & boundaries, a great deal of prayer & leaning on God to show you what do to, when to do it & how to do it.
No, Dear Reader.. you aren’t weak. You are strong. The fact that you are looking for solutions to your situation shows you have strength. Know that you will survive this with your sanity & dignity in tact. Until you know what you need to do, always practice the Gray Rock method, keep & enforce healthy boundaries & focus on your healing. You can get through this!!
A common feeling many people experience after narcissistic abuse is grief. It makes sense since there is a great deal to grieve! If the narcissist in question was a parent, you grieve the loss of your childhood, the pain of having a parent who didn’t treat you right or love you, the years wasted trying to please your impossible to please parent, the parent you wish you had & more. If the narcissist was a spouse, there is grief too, because that person married you not out of love, but out of wanting to use & abuse you. There is also time wasted with this person that could have been spent in much better ways. You also may grieve the loss of the person you thought the narcissist was at first. If you passed up a good person to marry the narcissist, there is regret & grief over losing that good person. If you had children together, no doubt there is also a great deal of guilt over giving your children this terrible person as a parent.
Whatever your situation, if you’re grieving after escaping narcissistic abuse, please know you are normal! It’s awful to experience but it’s also very normal. Grief isn’t only something to be experienced after someone dies. It comes after all kinds of losses.
You need to experience & process your grief after narcissistic abuse just as you would after losing someone you love. It is healing to cry & be angry about the unfairness of it all. Ignoring it, pretending it isn’t happening or even shaming yourself as if something is wrong with you for feeling this way isn’t healthy at all!
Rather than do those unhealthy things, why not try accepting your feelings without judgment? They’re not abnormal, they’re not wrong & you aren’t crazy for feeling the way you do. Stop criticizing them. Accept them for what they are- your feelings that are completely valid.
As you accept them, sit with them for a while. Cry or yell if you need to. I know this can be difficult for those of us shamed for having feelings by our narcissistic parent, so if those are too much, then try writing things out. If you don’t have a journal, it may be an excellent time to start one. If you want to be certain no one ever reads it, there are online journals that are private & password protected. I use Penzu’s free version, but there are plenty of others as well if it doesn’t meet your needs.
I’ve also found writing letters to the narcissist very helpful. I wrote out everything I thought & felt about what they did, not censoring myself. The especially important part of this is I never sent the letters. I wrote them to purge myself of the awful things I felt because of the actions of a narcissist, not to tell the narcissist how they made me feel or to try to make them see the errors of their ways. Doing such things is a complete waste of time & energy with a narcissist. In fact, if you do them, chances are you’ll only feel worse after instead of better because the narcissist will try to convince you that you’re oversensitive, overreacting or even crazy. Instead, I’ve found ripping the letters up & throwing them away or burning them to be very helpful.
If you have a safe friend, relative or even counselor, talking about your grief or praying with them can be very helpful as well.
You also need to be aware that grief doesn’t have time limits. You can’t expect to get over the trauma in a set time. In fact, a part of you most likely always will grieve to some degree, just like when someone you love dies. It does get easier in time though. You also learn to rebuild yourself & adapt to your new life without suffering narcissistic abuse. Whatever you choose to do to cope isn’t important. What matters is that you deal with your grief & accept it as a natural part of the healing process.
One thing that has always baffled me is how people talk about how wonderful that person who died was, even though you know very well that person was an absolute jerk. As if death somehow turned that sinner into a saint.
A few years back, a former friend of mine lost her mother. Her mother had abused her terribly for her entire life. Yet, when this woman died, my friend constantly posted on Facebook how much she missed her mother, she loved her & what a beautiful, wonderful person her mother was. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore… I had to ask her why she was saying these things after all the terrible things her mother did to her. She said it helped her to cope with the emotions if she pretended her mother was a good mother. Not a healthy coping skill by any means, but she was content with it.
I think many people probably have the same reason for their similar behavior. Losing someone you love, even someone abusive, is incredibly difficult & painful.
After my mother died, I caught myself remembering the good things about her. Those few times we got along well, when we could laugh & have fun together. The time she taught me to crochet when I was 5. Little things like that. I also prayed a lot during this time & knew that not only was she in Heaven, but she also was no longer the abusive & cruel person she was before she died. I realized that I was starting to do somewhat like my former friend did when her abusive mother died, focusing on only the good about my mother. While she was fine coping in that way, I wasn’t. It didn’t feel right or healthy to me. I got in prayer about it & learned some things.
When you love someone dies, you’re going to miss them. If that person was abusive, you’re going to miss the few good things about them, if there were any. If not, you’ll miss the person you wish they had been. Part of grieving is letting go. You are naturally going to have a harder time letting go of the good things than the bad, or even the good things you wish would have been.
Remembering the good things brings some normalcy to a very abnormal situation. There is absolutely nothing normal about coping with the death of a narcissistic parent. You can feel as if you’re completely alone, you’re crazy or unreasonable. You also most likely will feel that not one single person on the face of the earth understands what you’re feeling, because what you feel isn’t what most people feel when their parent dies. Focusing on the good, remembering the good things makes you feel more normal. It’s normal & socially acceptable to miss the good things about your parent. In most situations, it’s not normal or socially acceptable to feel glad your parent is gone or relief he or she can’t abuse you any longer. Unfortunately with narcissistic parents, both of those feelings are totally normal, they just don’t feel that way.
It’s incredibly difficult to mourn the death of a narcissistic parent. It’s easier in a sense to grieve the normal aspects of your parent, whether they were real or what you wish your parent had been like. Grieving the death of a narcissistic parent can be complex, confusing, infuriating, sad, devastating & so much more. When you grieve someone you love, basically it boils down to you miss that person. Of course that’s painful but it isn’t really convoluted. You don’t have to deal with all the intricacies & complexities that go along with mourning the death of a narcissistic parent. If you can make your parent more “normal”, it makes the grief process easier by making it less complex.
I don’t think remembering the positive things about your narcissistic parent is a bad thing in general. However, if you’re in this situation & remember only the good, that should be a red flag that you aren’t coping with your parents’ passing in a healthy way. It’s ok to remember the awful times & the abuse, & even to be angry about them. It’s ok to admit to yourself & others that your parent wasn’t exactly parent of the year. It’s also ok to be glad your parent is gone & you’re finally free. These things don’t mean you’re a terrible person. They mean you’re HUMAN!
I saw a comment on one of my old YouTube videos I thought was rather interesting. The comment said that this person took care of her elderly abusive mother until the end of her life. She suffered health problems that didn’t run in her family as a result of dealing with their “complicated” relationship, but she is glad she didn’t abandon her like I did my parents. She went on to say that although she didn’t like my video, she said she’s glad she watched it anyway because she realized maybe she wasn’t such a terrible daughter like me after all.
Rather than simply delete the stupid comment, I left it up. It’s sort of a lesson within a lesson. The original lesson being my video, & the secondary lesson is how to deal with people like this.
This sort of comment happens all the time with adult children of narcissistic parents. The smug ignoramuses of the world think they have the right to judge how we treated our parents while they truly know nothing of our experiences. We need to be aware that this can happen & how to handle it.
To start with, I believe it’s very important to realize this is a trigger, which is why your reaction may be exceptionally emotional. Mine certainly was. I immediately felt rage & wanted to tell this person exactly what I thought of her judgmental words. I took a few moments to calm down because I recognized my strong reaction was a trigger. It reminded me of things my own family has said. If a comment like this is said to you in person or on the phone, you don’t have the luxury of taking a few minutes to calm yourself before responding as I did. Instead, take a deep breath & let it out slowly. This will calm your mind & body long enough for you to formulate a good response rather than react. Reactions in situations like this only cause more problems. You need to have a calm & calculated response instead.
It’s also important to recognize that a person saying this sort of drivel has some ulterior motive. Often they are flying monkeys, saying such idiocy to hurt you on behalf of the narcissist. They may even know the truth but say this anyway simply to hurt you because you hurt the narcissist that they idolize. In my case, I don’t know this person nor does this person know my parents. Flying monkey obviously can’t be the case. I have another idea of what her problem is though…
The commenter in my situation is, I believe, a covert narcissist or at the very least, has narcissistic tendencies. Covert narcissists will do anything they can to get the word out that they are wonderful, caring, & even martyr like. That is what this person did with me. She came across as a loving, devoted daughter who was willing to sacrifice herself & even her health for her abusive mother. She shamed me for not being a “good daughter” like she obviously was while at the same time building up her martyr image. I’m glad this person was so obvious in displaying those narcissistic tendencies because that enabled me to know how to handle the situation immediately: provide no narcissistic supply. I debated deleting the comment, but that would’ve validated to this person how mean & unreasonable I am. It also would’ve enabled her to look like the victim of my meanness, & provided narcissistic supply. Instead, I figured it best to respond simply, without emotion. I said that everyone has to do what they feel is right in their situation. I did in mine just as she did in hers. I’m not judging her so please don’t judge mine & if she can’t refrain from that, please stay off my page. Simple, to the point & calm.
Whether the person in question in these situations is a narcissist, flying monkey or just some poorly informed person with good intentions, it’s never wise to defend your actions. Somehow, that always seems to make things worse, so don’t do it! If you must say something for whatever reason, keep your comments unemotional & logical. State only the facts, not how you felt. And, ask logical questions like, “I don’t understand how you think me doing what you think I should makes any sense. Why should I subject myself to being treated so poorly?”
Lastly, always remember that God is there for you. If you don’t know what to do, ask Him for help. Even a prayer as simple as “Please help me!” can work wonders! As the adult child of a narcissistic parent, you need to know how to handle yourself when these situations arise & unfortunately, they will arise. I hope my situation has given you ideas on how to do that when the time comes.
Often, two people who were raised by narcissistic parents marry each other when they grow up. Ideally, they understand each other’s past, offer support & help each other cope if their parents are still a part of their lives. Sadly though, this isn’t always the case.
Sometimes when two adult children of narcissistic parents marry, they learn each person is on a very different page. One is trying to be healthy while the other remains in denial of just how toxic his or her parents are. This is hardly an easy position to be in for either person.
If you are in this painful situation, I hope this post can help you today!
To start with, you need to pray. Ask God for any help you need to cope with the situation, whether it be patience, understanding, wisdom or anything. Prayer is always the best place to start in any difficult situation, & situations don’t get much more difficult than this one!
Next, you need to accept that you & your partner are in a different place. Your spouse may never see the truth about their parents. They also may never see the truth about yours, for that matter. You can’t change this, so you need to accept that painful truth.
You also need to accept that you can’t change your partner. As much as you’d like to, you can’t make him or her see the truth. We all have to face the truth as we are able. Forcing someone to see the truth before they’re ready isn’t good for their mental health.
You may need to stop discussing anything about your parents with each other to avoid conflict. I know this is incredibly frustrating because you should be able to discuss any topic with your spouse. In an ideal world, that is how things are. Unfortunately though, when dealing with two fallible human beings, that isn’t always feasible. If discussing anything about parents causes strife, it may be best to find someone else with which to discuss the problems. A close friend or relative, your pastor or even a counselor may be a much better option for you.
If you have issues with your spouse’s narcissistic parent, unfortunately, you can’t expect support from your spouse if he or she doesn’t see that parent is narcissistic. Don’t expect it from him or her. I realize this goes against what is natural & is very painful & hard to accept, but you need to do it anyway. Accepting this painful truth is hard, but it is easier than to be disappointed in your spouse repeatedly.
You also will need to find ways to deal with your narcissistic in-laws on your own, & chances are slim your spouse will approve of how you deal with them. This is tricky. There is no way to avoid your spouse’s anger in this situation. The best you can do is to remain calm when dealing with your awful in-laws & your spouse. Also be logical when your spouse gets angry. If he or she says you’re hurting the narcissistic parent, for example, you can say that parent has hurt you too. Why was that acceptable behavior but you setting a reasonable boundary to protect yourself wasn’t?
Never forget to take care of yourself & your mental health. A spouse in denial can be very good at making the healthier spouse feel as if they are wrong, over sensitive or even crazy. Don’t buy into this gaslighting! You are doing what is right by facing the truth about your narcissistic parents & in-laws. Don’t let anyone, including your spouse, convince you otherwise!
One thing most people who haven’t experienced abuse at the hands of a narcissist fail to grasp is last straw moments. In fact, they can be odd enough that even those of us who have experienced narcissistic relationships don’t always understand them.
Last straw moments are those things that a narcissist does that seals their fate with their victim. The things may not be the worst thing they ever have done. In fact, they may not be all that bad, especially in comparison to other things the narcissist has done. They simply are something that makes a victim say “enough is enough!”
With my ex husband, it happened on our fourth wedding anniversary. I’d told him I wanted a divorce probably a month prior. He said I owed it to him to give him one last chance. Being naive, I agreed to it. Aside from moving out of his parents’ home, nothing changed. On our anniversary, we watched television. He suddenly said, “So you still want that divorce?”
With my mother, it happened when we had a huge argument in 2016 about me not telling my parents that my husband’s mother died. They knew I didn’t speak to her or her two daughters. I also was more concerned about my husband than my parents, especially since they spoke with my in-laws maybe four times in the 22 years we had been together at that time. I naively thought they wouldn’t care about her passing other than concern for my husband. I felt betrayed that my mother cared more about potentially upsetting my in-laws by not being there than me feeling her attendance would’ve shown she cared more for them than me. When I told her how I felt, she acted like I was the one in the wrong, & was angry with me. I couldn’t deal with her again.
Several months later, I went no contact with my father. One day, my husband & I were having our back door replaced when suddenly my father showed up. My husband told my father to leave, & after some harsh words, he did. Twice the following week, he sent the police to do a wellness check, claiming my husband abused me & kept me from him. My father sinking so low made me realize I’d never break no contact with him.
In all three scenarios, nothing they did was especially bad compared to their other actions. Yet somehow, it also woke me up to how badly I needed to get away from such toxicity.
Chances are excellent that you will experience something similar in your relationship with the narcissist in your life. When this happens, please learn from my experiences.
Don’t beat yourself up. So what this wasn’t the worst thing they have done? They have done plenty. It’s normal that anything, even something sort of small, can push you over the edge, because your patience are worn out.
Don’t think you’re petty because what they did wasn’t as bad as other things. Like I just said, it’s normal that anything, even something sort of small, can be too much after someone continually does terrible things to you.
Don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Everyone is unique. Just because your last straw moment was different than someone else’s doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.
Remember that you are unique as is the narcissist in your life. There are no one size fits all solutions. You need to handle the situation from here the best you can. If others think you’re wrong, so be it. If no one you know has handled a similar situation as you feel you need to, that isn’t important. Do what you know in your heart is right in your situation, & don’t let anyone else change your mind.
Both of my parents died not terribly long after going no contact with them. My father within a few months in October, 2017 & my mother almost exactly 18 months later in April, 2019. I have done a LOT of thinking since then because, well, that’s what I do, I overthink things. lol One thing I thought about though made a lot of sense & I wanted to share it with you.
When someone goes no contact with their narcissistic parent, it seems most people assume that person hates their parent. They hate them so much, they can’t tolerate that person in their life any longer. I find that is rarely the case. Every person I’ve spoken with about this topic has said they loved their narcissistic parent deeply. It was the abuse they hated, which is why they felt they had no other choice but to go no contact.
I felt the same way. I hated how my parents treated me so badly, I felt I had no other choice but to go no contact. I prayed a lot, I tried a lot of things, & nothing I did or said helped the relationship. In fact, it kept getting worse.
Eventually I felt no contact was my only option & I prayed a LOT about that. I felt God wanted me to wait, so I did even though it was incredibly difficult. When the time felt right, I eliminated my parents from my life. It was the hardest, most painful thing I’ve ever had to do. Later, I learned it was also the right thing to do.
Just before my father died, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. His miraculous story is on my website at www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com if you’d like to read it. Anyway part of the reason he turned to God was because I wouldn’t go say goodbye to him as he was dying, in spite of knowing he wanted me to & the constant harassment & bullying by people trying to force me to. Nothing else in his almost 80 years of life worked to make him turn to God, not even his own near death experience when he was a teenager.
After my mother died, I learned that she too accepted Jesus as her Savior. Apparently she had as a young child, but stepped away from her new faith probably because of the abuse she received at home. Me not having a relationship with her, I believe, helped to turn her towards God as it did my father. During our almost three years of no contact at the time of her passing, I prayed for her daily. During that time, God told me a few times that she was praying, asking God to make me contact her. He said that her motivations were purely selfish, so He didn’t want me to.
I think my story isn’t terribly unique. Many narcissistic parents end up alone in their final years, abandoned by the children they abused for their entire lives. I also can’t help but think many would turn to God in their desperation for help as my parents did. Hopefully they also would accept Jesus into their hearts as my parents did.
Dear Reader, as hard as it can be, please pray for your narcissistic parents. God hears those prayers, even when we pray from an attitude of “I’m only doing this because I know You want me to.” That was my attitude for a long time, yet in spite of it, both of my parents went to Heaven when they passed away. So please, keep praying for your narcissistic parents. Even if prayer is the only thing you can do for them, it is a very powerful & wonderful thing!
People who don’t understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder, flying monkeys in particular, seem to all think that setting boundaries & limits on a narcissist’s abusive behavior is a terrible thing to do. If the victim is a Christian, these people often add in that those limits are “ungodly”, “unloving” & even “not honoring your parents.” If a victim wants to divorce a narcissistic spouse, people are quick to point out the Scripture that says, “God hates divorce!” or “wives submit to your husbands” while leaving out anything else that can elaborate on these verses.
The fact however, is that these people are entirely wrong. Boundaries are loving, Godly & honorable.
You can’t change anyone’s behavior of course, but boundaries set the stage to encourage a person to behave in a better way. Good boundaries also show people how to treat others in a healthy way by displaying clearly what a person will & will not tolerate.
Consequences when someone disregards another’s boundaries also give a person a choice. They can change their behavior for the better & receive a better, healthier relationship in return for their efforts. Or, they can continue their bad behavior & suffer the negative consequences, such as someone terminating the relationship with them.
It is a loving thing to do to help people behave in a more Godly & loving way.
What is not a loving thing to do is enabling bad behavior. Tolerating abuse is far from loving. How could it be a loving thing to do to encourage someone to participate in bad, abusive & yes even sinful behavior? It isn’t loving at all nor is it Godly! Yet it seems like so many people think this is the case, & will twist Scripture around in an attempt to convince other people this is true.
And, on the opposite side of that same coin, how is it loving to tolerate things that cause pain? How does that sort of behavior benefit anyone? It only hurts victims & tells abusers that their awful behavior is fine.
I know this post is a very brief & basic one today, Dear Reader, but I felt the need to put it out there anyway. I feel someone needs this simple reminder, so here it is. Keep your boundaries in place & keep enforcing them! Anyone who doesn’t respect them is the one with the problem, not you. You aren’t a bad Christian or unloving spouse or adult child for having boundaries. You are simply giving someone the natural consequences of their behavior, as things should be. People reap what they so, as the Scripture says…..
Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. 8 For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (AMP)
Many adult children of narcissistic parents treat their children more like partners than their children. These parents expect their children to take care of all of their emotional needs, but some also add in their physical needs (such as cooking or doing housework well beyond what they should be doing at their age) & even sexual needs. This phenomenon is known as emotional incest, parentalizing or parentification. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll call it emotional incest in this article.
Narcissists often turn to their children for support rather than their partner for various reasons. Narcissistic supply can be one reason. People see the narcissist’s relationship with her child as very close, not realizing it’s actually very sick, & praise this “wonderful relationship” which provides narcissistic supply. Or, maybe the narcissist is simply unhappy with her spouse or single status, & since the child is convenient, she turns to her child with matters that should be discussed with her spouse or a close friend.
No matter the reason, emotional incest has a devastating effect on a child. The child subjected to this abusive behavior feels a tremendous amount of responsibility for the parent’s emotional state, as well as possibly also the parent’s physical or sexual needs too. This child grows up with a tremendously overdeveloped sense of responsibility not only for the abusive parent, but everyone in her life. This can lead to codependency, depression, anger, anxiety & more.
The child who is abused also feels guilty for growing up, leaving home & wanting to have her own life. When I was 19, I moved out of my parents’ home & my mother was livid. She made her disapproval painfully obvious, & even told me I’d never survive on my own.
Emotional incest also can lead to a child having very unhealthy romantic relationships as an adult. The child is taught from an early age that the parent’s needs come first, no matter what. A person married to an adult child of an emotionally incestuous environment is going to be a lower priority to that adult child than that child’s parents. Whatever the parent wants will be more important than the spouse. If the parent wants holidays spent together, that is what will happen even if the spouse doesn’t want to be a part of them. If the parent has a need (either real or imagined) on their adult child’s wedding anniversary, the adult child will deal with it rather than the anniversary.
If you are in this dysfunctional situation, then you need to break free of it! It won’t be easy but it will be possible.
As always, the first step should be prayer. Ask God to show you what to do to help break the cycle. And, ask Him to help you to have the strength & courage to do it.
Also, start changing the subject with your narcissistic parent. Both of my parents indulged in emotionally incestuous behavior for my entire life, until I ended the relationship with them, & the best way I found to end it was simple subject changes. Asking them about something else related to themselves worked best. Since narcissists enjoy talking about themselves more than any other topic, it makes sense that is their favorite subject change.
Sometimes subject changes don’t work & the narcissistic parent keeps changing the subject back to the topic. If at all possible, end the conversation. If you’re in their home or they are in yours, it can be challenging. Try to have a friend on call, so to speak. Have the phone number of someone you can trust ready so you can dial the number quickly & discreetly or take your phone with you to the bathroom if need be. Tell that person ahead of time that if you call their number & it only rings a couple of times & you hang up, that means they need to call you & say they need you to come to them immediately. Or, if you’re on the phone with your parent & want to end the conversation, ring your doorbell or knock on your door. You can then say, “The doorbell rang.. I have to go.” If you have a dog who barks when they hear the doorbell, this is an added bonus- your parent will hear the dog & know that your doorbell rang. You also can use your cell to call your house phone or vice versa & then you can tell your parent that the call waiting beeped & you need to go. Sneaky? Yes, but not dishonest. Your doorbell rang, your call waiting beeped & you do need to go!
I also learned that saying, “It hurts me when you talk to me about Mom/Dad like that” was a recipe for disaster. Not only did it not stop their behavior, since they knew it hurt me, they did it even more. This is typical of narcissists, so learn from my mistake- DO NOT ADMIT IT HURTS YOU!!!
Always remember, the problems your parent is telling you about are NOT your responsibility. You have no obligation to fix them. Tune your parent’s words out if it helps you.
Lastly, limit your contact as much as possible with your narcissistic parent. If you aren’t so available, they may feel forced to find someone else to listen to their woes & you need the reprieve.
Emotional incest is a very painful thing to deal with, but you can handle it!
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Growing up with narcissistic parents is a horrific experience. Neglect & abuse abound, resulting in a child who grows up with little or even no self-esteem, doubts about their sanity, no real identity beyond what their parents told them they were & other horrible traumas that often result in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or C-PTSD.
In addition to this trauma, many of these children are met with disbelief & even blame for the way their parents treated them. Sadly, this treatment comes mostly from family members. Even as adults, this invalidation often continues & can be even more heartless & painful.
You may find some of these phrases I mention in this post sound familiar to you. If you do, & if you think they will help the person who said them to you see the error of their ways, feel free to show this to them. However, know many people who invalidate victims of narcissistic abuse are also narcissists, which means they only will use the information to hurt you further. You need to use your best judgment on this.
“Why not just talk to your parents. Tell them how you feel.” Normally, this isn’t bad advice. Two functional people often can create solutions to problems by discussing them. This is impossible with narcissists, however. They lack empathy & feel entitled to do or say anything they want. The way people feel about their words & actions, in particular their children, mean nothing to them. Unless they feel they can gain something by impressing someone by caring about their feelings, no one’s emotions mean anything to them. Narcissistic parents often view their children’s feelings as selfish, unreasonable, stupid, or trivial.. that is if they even notice their feelings at all. Many narcissistic parents don’t even notice their children’s feelings no matter how upset they are. They also are highly likely to use their children’s emotions against them to humiliate, shame or manipulate them.
“You need to find a way to fix this relationship!” My aunt once told me how I needed to get into therapy to find a way to fix things with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!” I thank God I was far along in my healing journey at the time she said this, because such words could’ve been devastating if I wasn’t! I tried to do as she said when I was 17, & even saw a few therapists. No matter how much therapy I got, no matter what I did, I couldn’t fix the relationship with my parents. While one person can destroy a relationship, one person can never fix a relationship. It takes two to make a relationship work. Putting the burden of fixing it on a victim is simply cruel & stupid.
“How do you think your behavior makes your parent feel?” After setting boundaries or going no contact, the flying monkeys love to slither out of the wood work & tell victims how wrong, evil, selfish, & stupid they are along with them being terrible sons or daughters for acting the way they are. They make these adult children sound like spoiled rotten little brats who are throwing a hissy fit because they don’t want to eat their vegetables at dinner. People who say this fail to realize that child of a narcissistic parent or two spend their entire lives are spent considering their parents’ feelings! Every single little thing is about the parent & nothing has to do with them. No wonder the parent is upset about that child setting a boundary or even going no contact. The parent probably never expected this to happen. That doesn’t mean boundaries or no contact are wrong, however!
“Have you ever thought about how you make your parents feel by talking about this?” They may add 1 Peter 4:8 that in part says “love covers a multitude of sins” to make it sound as if God Himself is ashamed of the victim for discussing the abuse. This is incredibly shaming & cruel! Narcissistic parents instill in their children a very large dose of fear about discussing the abuse. Being open about it is incredibly difficult & brave. If those parents wanted their child to discuss them in a positive light, they shouldn’t have been abusive.
“Parents always love their children.. it’s a shame children don’t always love their parents.” This is an utter LIE. There are plenty of parents who lack the ability to love their children. Narcissists may love the narcissistic supply their children provide but truly loving their children in a healthy, Godly way is beyond their abilities. Not to mention, there are plenty of children of narcissistic parents who love them. In fact, almost every adult child of narcissistic parents I have spoken with loved their parent a great deal. It’s the parent’s behavior they hated. I’m the same way. I love my parents, I just couldn’t tolerate the abuse, which is why I went no contact. It wasn’t done out of hatred for them.
“You kids always blame your mother & don’t take any responsibility for yourself.” The fact is children naturally deny bad parts about their parents or find a way why their parent’s bad behavior is their fault. It’s probably a survival skill. If the child can deny the parent doesn’t love them or is abusive, they stand greater chances of receiving care from their parents. These children work harder & harder to please their abusive parents, so the parent will give them some care at least.
“You need to get over it. That’s in the past.” When you have C-PTSD as a result of being raised by a narcissistic parent or two, the past is always a part of your present. Flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts are triggered very easily & they don’t go away simply because we want them to. If only it was that easy! Even medication can’t stop such things. It takes time & dealing with each event as it comes up to get any semblance of control over it interfering with the present, & even then, it may not go away entirely. I still have flashbacks & nightmares once in a while about events I have dealt with to the best of my ability. It’s rare, but it still happens.
“Your parents have always been so nice to me!” Narcissists work hard to create an image of perfection to those who aren’t their victims. It’s not uncommon for narcissists to have a friendly & pleasant conversation with someone, then once the person is out of their presence or they hang up the phone, they attack their victim. People who haven’t seen behind the narcissist’s mask often have a hard time believing that the person you claim was an abusive parent is anything but the good person they see.
To help those who suffered at the hand of a narcissistic parent or two, if you don’t know about narcissistic abuse, you will need to learn about it. You also will need to remember not everyone has a functional family, & accept that some families are extremely complex & dysfunctional.
If you’re a victim of narcissistic parents & someone says comments like this to you, please remember what they say is wrong. It comes from their own dysfunctional beliefs, not reality. Try your best not to take their words to heart.
Many covert narcissists tend to behave like children in some ways. I believe this is because they want to be coddled & taken care of like little kids. Not that everyone doesn’t have that urge to be cared for sometimes but they really take it over the top.
Do you know if the covert narcissist in your life is behaving childishly? Here are some ways to identify their childish behavior.
Childish adults don’t control their emotions normally. Healthy adults have a good perspective. Sure they get angry or sad sometimes, but it’s proportionate to the situation at hand. Childish adults aren’t this way. They get angry easily or cry at the drop of a hat, & their reactions are very disproportionate to the situation.
They lie. Granted, all narcissists lie. Childish ones however will lie even easier than their more mature counterparts. If they’re in a situation where they are uncomfortable, childish narcissists will lie to get out of it. Maybe they don’t want to attend their child’s Christmas play at school, so they say they have a headache in order to get out of it.
Blameshifting/blaming. Another thing all narcissists love to do is shift the blame to their victim rather than accept responsibility. Again though, childish ones do it even faster.
Excuses. When a normal adult is confronted about something, they accept responsibility without making excuses. Childish narcissists don’t do this. They make up excuses, often really lame ones. As one example, my late mother in-law was a covert & childish narcissist. She used to snoop through my purse if I left her alone with it in her home for more than a moment, like if I went to the bathroom. At one point, she left $40 in it. I told my husband this isn’t her trying to bless me- it’s hush money so I’ll let her keep snooping. As I listened from around the corner, he talked to her about staying out of my purse. She whined about having “alllllll this cash just lying around” & said she had to get rid of it. She didn’t mean any harm- she was just trying to get rid of some of that extra cash. Lame excuse, no?
They feign incompetence. Any adult who wants to be treated like a child will pretend they don’t know how to do things. They may try to do something & do it really badly or break something, so the people in their lives get frustrated & just do the task for them.
Everything is a crisis. Not every problem is a crisis, but childish narcissists act like they are. If they have a crisis, then they can call on someone (usually their adult children) to run to their side to fix the problem.
Parentification. Narcissistic parents are often very good at parentification. This is when a parent treats a child more as a partner than a child. The child is supposed to listen to the parent’s problems, often about such inappropriate topics as the parent’s marriage or sex life. The child is supposed to take care of the parent’s emotional needs (cheer the parent when she’s sad, calm her down when angry, etc) & sometimes physical ones as well (such as cooking for or doing the laundry). If both parents are narcissists, often the covert narcissistic parent will also expect the child to protect that parent from the overt one. The child ends up very protective of that parent, not only with the other parent, but in general. When that child grows up & gets married, if his new spouse has any complaint about the childish parent, the adult child will defend that parent to the spouse, often to the spouse’s surprise. Excuses are made, the spouse is shamed for daring to be upset with the parent & more.
To deal with these childish behaviors in your narcissistic parent, don’t indulge them. If your parent wants you to do something you know she can handle on her own, let her. Tell her you aren’t able to take care of it but you know she can handle it just fine.
If she calls, complaining about a crisis & you know it’s not really a crisis, put it in perspective for her. Use cold logic. Let’s say she’s upset because her mail hasn’t been delivered yet & it’s 2:00. It usually arrives by 10, so she is upset it’s not there. You can (calmly) say things like, “Mom, it’s still early in the day. It’s the Christmas season & the post office is really busy this time of year. They get behind sometimes. If it doesn’t arrive by 6, contact the post office in the morning.” Logic is a wonderful tool with narcissists. They can’t say anything when the facts are completely clear before them.
Use logic when she lies, makes excuses or blames, too. You can say things like, “I really don’t see how Susan doing that could make you behave that way. It doesn’t make any sense. Besides, I’ve known Susan for 10 years, & I’ve never known of her to do anything even remotely like that before.” When you use logic, always stay calm & state the facts clearly.
If your narcissistic behavior acts childish with emotions, such as having a temper tantrum for not getting her way, treat her like the bratty child she’s acting like! Tell her you aren’t going to talk to her until she calms down. If you’re on the phone, tell her you have to go. Use another phone to trigger your call waiting, so that way you can tell her your call waiting went off- you have to go. (it’s not technically lying- your call waiting did beep!)
Regarding parentification behaviors… this is a tough one. I honestly never found a way to stop my parents from doing it. Saying, “It hurts me when you talk about Mom/Dad like this” doesn’t work with narcissists. The one thing I found to be the most effective was to change the subject, especially back to my narcissistic parent. Since narcissists love to talk about themselves, let that work in your favor. Granted, you may not want to hear the latest gossip spoken about during her last bridge club but it sure beats hearing about 1,000 reasons she thinks your dad is a jerk!
There are ways to cope with childish behavior in narcissistic parents. These suggestions are the best ones I’ve found. Also don’t forget to pray. Asking God for help is the smartest thing you can do.
Childhood trauma is a terrible thing. It forms so much of who we become as adults, good & bad. Unfortunately usually there is much more bad than good.
The way to help minimize the bad is to heal. To do this, you have to face the trauma, & that involves facing the emotions connected to it. I know, this isn’t exactly fun but it’s quite necessary for healing. Emotions demand to be dealt with, so not doing so will result in them manifesting in such toxic ways. They will negatively affect your mental & physical health. They can draw you to unhealthy relationships & circumstances. That’s why it’s so much healthier to face trauma than to avoid doing so.
An effective way to do this that I have found is loosely based on Craig Hill’s “The Ancient Paths” book & seminars. Start by looking at your life. What areas are you consistently struggling with? From there, you can ask God to show you what the root of the problem is. When I have done this, God has shown me a memory, & usually it’s from childhood. I focus on that memory, remembering everything about it that I can – what happened, where it happened, who was there, even more insignificant things like scents, sounds, who wore what clothing. Remembering as much as possible makes it more real, which triggers many emotions. Once I feel the emotions I tell God that in that situation I felt a certain way, like helpless, ashamed, stupid, ugly. Then I ask Him to tell me if what I felt was right. Was I right to feel the things I did? I then listen for His response. There really is healing & life in God’s word! When He has spoken to me, I end up feeling so much better! So much of the pain just disappears.
There is still a bit of work to do after this, however. You will need to feel your feelings. I mean really feel them. Cry, get angry, yell… do whatever helps you to feel those emotions so you can get them out of you. I often tell God just what I’m feeling. He really can handle that & offer comfort during these painful times. You may need to do this a few times to purge yourself completely of the emotions. That depends on the trauma & how you as an individual feel about the situation.
When I first learned about all of this, I naively thought doing it once or twice would heal me completely. Unfortunately healing from trauma is an ongoing process. You have to heal from one incident at a time instead of all at once. I can’t tell you it’s ever easy, but I can say that the more you do it, the easier it gets. You get stronger as you heal, which enables you to face things better. You also grow closer to God, because facing trauma in this manner makes you depend on Him for help. It naturally strengthens your relationship. It also helps you see God as He is, your Heavenly Father, rather than how you view your earthly parents. So many abused children grow up seeing God as unreliable & untrustworthy as their earthly parents. It’s natural, unfortunately. Working on your healing in this way naturally changes your perspective on Him, & draws you closer to Him.
Also remember that doing this can be very emotionally draining. It’s only natural that dealing with such negative & strong emotions would leave you feeling drained & a bit raw emotionally after. When this happens, take good care of yourself. Rest, be sure to eat healthy & relax as much as you can.
I know this all sounds intimidating, but truly, you can do it & you’ll be very glad you did!
As I write this post, it’s May 5. To many people it’s no special day. To others, it’s Cinco De Mayo. To me, it’s a reminder of a very strange day.
In 2016, my mother in-law died on April 30. Two days later, our oldest kitty died suddenly. Three days after that was our dog, Dixie’s birthday & we really did try to celebrate her special day as usual. Not easy with the sadness we both felt, but we tried & I think Dixie was ok with that since she was a very sweet, sensitive & smart little pup.
Then “it” happened. May 5, 2016, I had a huge fight with my parents. It wasn’t entirely unexpected, as you can tell if you read the original post in the link above.
Today, as I was driving home, the date hit me. I had thought of it earlier remembering my sweet Dixie on her birthday (she passed in 2017), but I hadn’t thought about it relating to the argument with my parents. I also realized I hadn’t thought of it last year, either, but in all fairness, my mother had just passed & I was still in shock at that time. I wasn’t functioning very well.
Anyway, when I thought of the date relating to the argument with my parents, guilt about overwhelmed me. I am so NOT proud of my behavior that evening. That argument also was what led to me being no contact with my parents, & that led to them dying without me in their lives in any capacity. It was my final straw. Yet, I know what I did was the right thing. It seems so unfair to be wracked with guilt even knowing I did the right thing, yet, it also makes sense in a strange way.
Going no contact with your family, in particular your parents, is incredibly hard. Many people have no idea just how hard, but those of us who have done it or are contemplating doing it know. It’s brutal. It goes against nature, stepping away from your own blood! Yet sadly, it also is necessary sometimes.
If you’re contemplating going no contact with your narcissistic parent or parents, my heart goes out to you. It’s incredibly difficult! Having been in your position, I can give you some advice though…
Seriously consider your choice. No contact needs to be permanent, not permanent until you need your parent or miss them. Only do it when you are certain you can make it permanent, no matter what.
Don’t do it on a whim or because you’re angry. My story may sound like I did that but it’s not the case. I’d been considering no contact for a while at that time, yet felt the timing wasn’t right until that argument with my parents. It felt as if God said, “Now”. Timing is important. Trust His timing & ask Him to help you figure out when the time is right.
Know that going no contact can lead to tremendous guilt, even when you know there was no other choice. I know, it seems wrong but it’s a simple fact. As I type this, I still feel guilty about going no contact with my parents even knowing it was God’s will for me to do it. The one thing that helps the guilt is leaning on God for reassurance. At first, it was constant.. especially when my father was dying in 2017. It has lightened up a great deal, but even now, sometimes guilt still kicks in.. like today.
Never, ever stop praying for your parent. I know many people say narcissists aren’t worth praying for, they’re a lost cause, nothing can save them, etc. but you never know. Both of my parents are in Heaven!! When my mother died, a stranger, the funeral director who took care of her, told me that he felt God wanted him to tell me she was in Heaven. In 2017, a former friend told me that God spoke to her about my father being in Heaven. I realize not everyone wants to be saved & God honors the choices of each person. That being said though… never stop praying for your narcissistic parents! The worst case scenario is that parent doesn’t accept Jesus, which of course is terrible, but there is at least some comfort in knowing you did all you can do. God heard your prayers. He won’t forget you praying for your parents. He knows you did all you could do. Your conscience is clear, & that is a good thing.